UNITED NATIONS, Apr 27 – The UN Security Council on Thursday started talks on a resolution that could allow sanctions against Sudan and South Sudan if they do not meet African Union demands to end their border war.
The AU has asked the Security Council to endorse its demand that the two Sudans halt hostilities in 48 hours, start talks within two weeks, and complete a peace accord in three months.
A US-drafted resolution backs the AU demands and calls for the two sides to “immediately” halt hostilities and pull their forces back into their own territory.
The text says the Security Council would review the rivals’ implementation of the AU demands and could “take appropriate additional measures” under article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN charter, which allows for sanctions but not military force.
Worsening clashes along their border have seen Sudan accused of staging air raids in the South. The South’s troops this week withdrew from the disputed oil town of Heglig which they had seized from Sudan’s forces.
An AU Peace and Security Council meeting on Tuesday warned the Sudans they would take action if they did not halt clashes and start talks, and asked for the Security Council’s “endorsement” under Chapter VII of the UN charter.
Several members of the 15-nation UN council however are worried about sanctions threats, the diplomats said.
US ambassador Susan Rice told reporters discussions on the text were starting, but gave no details of the resolution.
“The intention of the text was to provide swift and substantive support to the decisions of the African Union, in the form that the African Union requested,” Rice told reporters.
“But there were some members who either need more time to get guidance from their capitals or who are skeptical of the wisdom of going directly to a resolution.”
The US ambassador said it would require “at least a few days” of discussions.
“From the US point of view and I think from the point of view of many council members, this is extremely urgent, and the council ought to act with the speed that it’s capable of in urgent situations,” she said.
The UN talks went ahead as a US envoy voiced hope that Sudan and South Sudan would soon issue statements declaring an end to fighting and opening the way for talks.
Princeton Lyman, US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, said that the two governments would likely move forward after an Arab League meeting discusses the crisis.
South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July last year. Tensions have mounted ever since with the two sides unable to agree their border, the future of disputed territories and how to share out the oil revenues that underpin the economies of both countries.